SANDY BERGER: Watching Television Online Can Be Amazing
For years, the tech industry has talked about the integration of television and the computer.
Now we are getting closer to actually seeing that type of integration. Many of the new televisions have Internet connectivity. But before you get a new television to view the Internet, you might want to go the other direction and watch television on the Internet.
If you haven't yet checked out television on the Internet, you will probably be amazed at what you can find. You can watch everything from old television series to news to recent programming.
Several of the major television networks are showing their current lineup of programs on the Internet. These include ABC, CBS, PBS and NBC. In most cases, you can catch an episode that you may have missed or you can watch the whole series to get yourself up to the current programming.
All the networks are similar, so I looked at ABC as an example of what you can find. ABC offers their most popular series such as "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," "Scrubs" and "Dancing with the Stars" at www.abc.com. You can see the current episode the morning after it is aired on television.
For some unknown reason, I love the soapy ABC show "Desperate Housewives." So the other day, I tuned into ABC on the Web to catch an episode that I had missed on television. I not only found the episode, but also I found that you can play it on your computer in high definition.
On my 24-inch LCD monitor, the picture was absolutely amazing. The Internet playback contained some ads, but they were limited to 15 to 20 seconds, so they were much less intrusive than regular television commercials. The whole experience was wonderful.
If you don't find what you want to watch on the network stations, there are plenty of other Web sites that will accommodate you. Just search for the name of the program you would like to watch. Or try a few of the Web sites that are known for aggregating television programming.
Hulu (www.hulu.com) is a good example. It has "Saturday Night Live," "The Simpsons," "House," "Office" and much more. Joost (www.joost.com) offers everything from "CSI" to Comedy Central. You will also find a lot of retro shows like "Star Trek" and "Gilligan's Island."
To watch television from around the world, check out Choose and Watch at www.chooseandwatch.com. It has 250 channels of television from the United States and many other countries. You can even search by country. Whether you are interested in television stations from Mexico, Estonia or Denmark, you'll find it here -- and you'll find a wealth of U.S. stations as well.
Some shows can be found on several different Internet Web sites, so you can choose which one gives you the best picture. To view some of the online television, you may need to download a video player like Windows Media Player.
As long as you recognize the player or are comfortable that you are on a reputable Web site, you will be able to download these safely to your computer. Once they are installed, you can go back and view the video from the Web site at any time without any additional downloads.
You will need a broadband Internet connection to watch television online. If your connection is fast enough, you may also find that some of these Web sites such as Hulu let you watch full movies, some surprisingly recent.
If your computer and your television are in close proximity, you can also easily hook your computer up to the television, especially if you have newer equipment.
Newer television sets have a PC video connection that simply requires a computer video cable for hookup. Some newer computers also have an HDMI input that can be used with a newer television. So with the proper equipment, you can watch the online content right on your television screen.
Most people don't realize it, but the Vista Home Premium operating system includes software that lets you control and even record television on your computer. You may have to add a television tuner to your computer to take advantage of it, but these now come as small USB devices that are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
We are just starting to see the integration of television and the Internet. The Web sites that I mentioned here are constantly adding new programming as well as new features. Be sure to check them out.
Some folks have found that there is so much available online that they have canceled their cable subscriptions. While you may not be ready to do that, you may be amazed to find yourself actually watching and enjoying television on your computer.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your comments and questions on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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